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Blues11

Kai Havertz

Started by Blues11,

2,697 posts in this topic

The race for Kai Havertz, one of the most coveted players of his generation

https://theathletic.com/1870255/2020/06/12/kai-havertz-leverkusen-bayern-chelsea-manchester-united-city/

Kai-Havertz-talented-player-of-a-generation-1024x683.jpg

In the beginning, it was all about the garden gnomes. Richard Weidenhaupt-Pelzer lined them up on a wall and got his grandson Kai to shoot them down with a football. “The boy himself was barely taller than the plastic dwarves,” former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Hans-Peter Lehnhoff recalls with a smile. “But he shot them all down.”

Lehnhoff knows the Havertz family well. They hail from the same village as him: Mariadorf, near the west German city of Aachen. In his youth, he played for the local club, SV Alemannia 1916, where Weidenhaupt-Pelzer was the chairman. Havertz’s grandfather had briefly played for Roda Kerkrade just across the border to the Netherlands and shared a pitch with Jupp Derwall, the future West Germany coach (1978-1984), at well-respected amateur side Rhenania Wurselen.

“Richard was the life and soul of our club,” Lehnhoff says. “And when he realised that Kai could play, he made it his mission to support him as best as he could.”

Aged four, Havertz joined Alemannia Mariadorf’s under-six side. He was only “the size of a fire extinguisher” in the words of his first coach Dirk Morfeld but his tiny figure belied a tenacity that astounded the coaches. “At first, they thought, ‘Okay, we’ll let him play a bit’. Then they say he was so good at everything that they couldn’t leave him out anymore. He had a wonderful left foot and was even good at headers.”

Havertz got better and better, and the whole village was starting to realise that they had a special talent on their hands. Scouts from Bundesliga clubs Borussia Monchengladbach, Cologne and Bayer Leverkusen rubbed shoulders with granddad Richard and Kai’s parents Ralf and Anne during the games, holding out the promise of a big career. But aged 10, Kai joined up with nearby Alemannia Aachen (then in Bundesliga 2) before moving to Leverkusen a year later.

“To understand what kind of person he is, you need to know his family,” says Markus Anfang, his former youth coach at Bayer. “His father is a policeman and his mother a lawyer. They’re very level-headed, honest and down-to-earth people, and he’s been raised the same way. He’s an unassuming guy, a real pleasure to work with. You can talk to him about absolutely everything.”

After overcoming some growth spurs problems (he is now a little over 6ft 2in), Havertz’s progress was fast and continuous. He joined Anfang’s under-17s at the age of 15. “My first impression of him?” says Anfang. “He was an outstanding footballer. Tall, elegant, calm on the ball. But he didn’t fully appreciate his qualities. We needed to convince him a little.”

Anfang explains that Havertz always felt that it was really important for him to start a game well. If he made a mistake early on, he told himself it wasn’t his day and lose heart. “He thought a lot about football and had very high expectations of himself. Sometimes he’d get disappointed too quickly if he felt he wasn’t doing himself justice. We had to get him over that and make him realise that it didn’t matter how a game started, that he should stop worrying and enjoy himself. Football was supposed to be fun. Especially for a kid like him, who made the most difficult stuff look easy.”

Opponents didn’t appreciate his effortlessness, however. It upset them. Anfang remembers one player trying to provoke Havertz with insults during a game. He took him to one side and told him not to worry: “That guy will one day stand on the Bayer terraces cheering you on.” Maybe he is today.

At the start of 2015, Havertz found his rhythm. The 16-year-old was good enough to move up to the under-19s but the coaches thought he would benefit from staying with the younger team. “We thought it would be very beneficial for the development of his personality if he went from being one of many good players in his side to being the outstanding one,” Anfang says. “Instead of being part of the group, he had to become a role model and a leader. It turned out a key moment in his career because he stopped looking at his performances that much. He learned to take responsibility for the whole team. He would play well, score goals, fight.”

Havertz duly led his side to the under-17s championship in 2015-16, scoring 18 goals in the process. “He was a leader without having to raise his voice. The other boys listened to him because they saw what he could do,” Anfang says. “Kai had a girlfriend and played video games but he’s a guy who is devoted to the game. He is football, through and through.”

GettyImages-463590920.jpg

A 15-year-old Havertz fights for the ball in a UEFA under-16s tournament (Photo: Filipe Farinha/Bongarts/Getty Image)

 

The German FA was watching too. Meikel Schonweitz, Germany’s head youth coach, recalls Havertz being part of a course of 60-80 kids in 2014. “He could obviously play but was trying to do everything in a purely technical way,” the 40-year-old tells The Athletic. “I said to him during a practice game: ‘Listen. I know you’re very elegant but what about using your body?’. He looked at me, nodded, and then in the next couple of minutes, he went into two tackles that were so heavy that we nearly had to abandon the session. ‘Oh,’ I thought. ‘He’s special’.”

Schonweitz learned that Havertz’s easy-going demeanour and unfailing politeness were hiding a fierce ambition. “He’s got ability and willpower. It’s a pretty useful combination.” Playing a slightly deeper role in midfield, Havertz showed that there was one thing he had more than almost any other player: time.

“That’s his most outstanding feature. He set the benchmark in that respect. Thanks to his vision and technique, he has more time to think about solutions than others. He’s quicker and clearer in his actions. He’s always got the extra metre, even though he looks rather slow with his long feet. But he isn’t. He’s quick and he’s quite hard. Early on, he was quite the complete player.”

Boosted by winning the championship with Leverkusen’s under-17s, Havertz matured a lot that season, capping a fine year by helping Germany to reach the semi-finals at the 2016 European Under-17 Championship in Azerbaijan. He went straight up to Leverkusen’s senior team in the following months, “playing as if he’d been at this level for many years,” as his former coach Roger Schmidt tells The Athletic.

Havertz quickly became a regular and even played in the Champions League, even though an A Level exam precluded him from playing in the second leg against Atletico Madrid in the last 16. “Young technical players sometimes struggle to adapt but there was a strong sense of purpose to everything he did,” says Schmidt. “Everybody respected him for his quality and mental fortitude. Instantly.”

Anyone who’s watched just a little German football over the last couple of years knows how this story continued. Havertz has grown into a Germany international, as well as one of the most coveted players of his generation, scoring 24 goals and providing 19 assists before the start of the current campaign. This season didn’t go off to the best of starts but Impect, the football data firm founded by former Bayer Leverkusen midfielders Stefan Reinartz and Jens Hegeler, still rates Havertz the third-best attacking player under the age of 21 in the Bundesliga (behind Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho).

His game-by-game chart this season clearly shows his dip in performances in the autumn followed by a return to brilliance after Christmas.

Leistungs-Entwicklung-Havertz-in-Saison-19_20.png

The 100 per cent mark at the top delineates performances that are better than any of the other attacking players in the Bundesliga and 50 per cent stands for a Bundesliga attacking players’ average performance. Balls signify goals.

“Havertz had his worst first half of the season since playing for the seniors, clocking in at only just above average 58 per cent for a player in his role,” Reinartz says. There were a few reasons for the drop-off but the last few months have proven that the reduced output was merely a temporary glitch. Nine goals and four assists in 12 league games have firmly restored his position as the most mesmerising young playmaker in the game.

“Havertz’s way of playing reminds me a lot of Mesut Ozil”, Reinartz says. “But there are differences.” In the graphic below, Havertz is blue and Ozil is red.

Vergleich-Havertz-blau-und-%C3%96zil-rot.png

“The outstanding quality of both is in creating passing options, the ability to receive balls between the lines and thus to move the whole game forward. On average, Havertz takes out 85 opponents per game by collecting the ball. He’s the best in the Bundesliga in that respect, ahead of Thomas Muller.” Havertz is less secure in his ball retention than Ozil. The Leverkusen midfielder, however, makes many more deep runs than Ozil, to get into dangerous positions himself.

So what’s next? Havertz was ready to move last summer but no club was willing to meet Leverkusen’s €120 million (£107.6 million) valuation. A year on, their stances are essentially the same: he feels it’s time to take the next step but Leverkusen will only sell for the right money. They still value him above €100 million but, with two years left on his contract, Bayer know that Havertz won’t command the same price tag next year. Interested clubs might start the bidding as low as €60 million, half Leverkusen’s original asking price.

The question is whether accepting a compromise this summer — a fee of around €80 million — is worth it, in sporting and financial terms. Without Havertz’s creative skills next season, Leverkusen are far less likely to qualify for the Champions League, missing out on €30 million at a bare minimum. Keeping the player for one more year might be the more economical option, even if the anticipated loss in transfer value is accounted for.

Bayer are not under pressure to sell. The club’s CEO Fernando Carro has internally outlined an ambitious push for trophies, and financial support by owners Bayer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, provides a degree of protection from the COVID-19 fallout.

Havertz’s potential will continue to attract attention. The player’s representatives have been fielding enquiries from all of Europe’s top clubs over the past 18 months, which is why every story you have read linking him with Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea has a basis in truth. There have been plenty of meetings with sporting directors and scouts, and some, like Bayern, went as far as outlining their exact tactical plans for the player a year ago. Yet negotiations with Leverkusen never started in earnest.

Following a period of relative silence during football’s enforced absence, momentum has noticeably picked up again in the last couple of weeks. Reports that Chelsea have shown a renewed interest are accurate. Due to the sheer number of potential takers and Bayer’s intransigence, it would be wrong to suggest that Chelsea are somehow in the lead of this race, however. The Athletic was told by a source close to Chelsea that the Premier League club, Leverkusen and Havertz are currently “miles apart” in terms of striking a potential deal.

Bayern are no closer. They are concentrating their efforts on signing Leroy Sane from Manchester City this summer and there’s only an outside chance that they’re willing or able to commit the best part of €150 million (fee and wages) on Havertz’s capture. Signing a right-back is higher on their list of priorities.

The saga could well rumble on through August, when a Havertz-inspired Leverkusen will challenge for the Europa League, which would likely put him under the spotlight even further. By then, Europe’s elite should also have a firmer grip on the financial implications of coronavirus; a quicker than feared return of crowds into the stadiums could alleviate some of the expected damage and free up funds. Judging by the spectacular potential of this future superstar, whoever wins this battle is unlikely to count the cost for too long.

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Watched the game

He is good but nowhere near sancho level

If we are spending 70-100mn more this summer after werner then we should first get someone like declan rice and telles in that money

Mount will end up better than havertz

If we have money in the bank after we offload the fringes and buy a cb and lb then we should make a move for sancho rather than havertz

Havertz i guess 50-55mn at most

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Watched the game
He is good but nowhere near sancho level
If we are spending 70-100mn more this summer after werner then we should first get someone like declan rice and telles in that money
Mount will end up better than havertz
If we have money in the bank after we offload the fringes and buy a cb and lb then we should make a move for sancho rather than havertz
Havertz i guess 50-55mn at most


Mount will end up better than Havertz? I have watched Mount from the beginning(Youth team) and I only see another Oscar

Havertz is the real deal. He just came from injury and in my opinion, his best position is playing as a CF. As a no. 10, he is very inconsistent.

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1 hour ago, killer1257 said:


 

 


Mount will end up better than Havertz? I have watched Mount from the beginning(Youth team) and I only see another Oscar

Havertz is the real deal. He just came from injury and in my opinion, his best position is playing as a CF. As a no. 10, he is very inconsistent.

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my breakdown

Havertz has been bottled up, his teammates ( Moussa Diaby and Nadiem Amiri) are far too central, so all the players on Schalke are sagging in on him

Alario is not a very active CF, too static

I have to say, overall, Bayer's 4 2 3 1 looks a lot like ours when we are having issues versus a flat back 4

the off ball movement, other than Havertz, is poor

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3 hours ago, shrenshah said:

Watched the game

He is good but nowhere near sancho level

If we are spending 70-100mn more this summer after werner then we should first get someone like declan rice and telles in that money

Mount will end up better than havertz

If we have money in the bank after we offload the fringes and buy a cb and lb then we should make a move for sancho rather than havertz

Havertz i guess 50-55mn at most

Really made me chuckle. Mount is has the right attitude and really loves the club and all but at the end of their careers there it will be no comparison. Mount would be perfect for a midrange side and become an absolute legend there but I doubt he will really cut it at the very top. Still a useful utility option. Havertz in contrast has the talent to become one of the top 10 players in the world.
 

the only thing i really don’t like in Habertz is That he hits the deck like 10 times per Game. Not that he is a diver but he is a foul magnet like Hazard with his dribbling and is so lanky he can’t help but fall over at the slightest contact. Will be painful for him in the PL at first

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3 hours ago, shrenshah said:

Watched the game

He is good but nowhere near sancho level

If we are spending 70-100mn more this summer after werner then we should first get someone like declan rice and telles in that money

Mount will end up better than havertz

If we have money in the bank after we offload the fringes and buy a cb and lb then we should make a move for sancho rather than havertz

Havertz i guess 50-55mn at most

Sancho was awful on Saturday himself. Havertz was just coming back from an injury and was a doubt for the game which probably affected his performance also.

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2 hours ago, killer1257 said:

Mount will end up better than Havertz? I have watched Mount from the beginning(Youth team) and I only see another Oscar

What seems to be forgotten due to his damp squib last 2/3 years is that Oscar's potential was insane as a youngster, if Mount can become what Oscar was suppose to have turned into then he will have a long and happy career here.

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What seems to be forgotten due to his damp squib last 2/3 years is that Oscar's potential was insane as a youngster, if Mount can become what Oscar was suppose to have turned into then he will have a long and happy career here.


I knew Oscar before he came to Chelsea and I never thought he would become world class. The only time I changed my mind on Oscar was when he scored those goals against Juventus on his debut, so I gave him a chance til season ended and he did not really convince me back then . I was furious when Mourinho chose Oscar over KDB. Mount for me has more potential than Oscar, but I do not see world class potential in him.

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still not buying this deal.  I think it's inevitable he goes Bayern next summer
But he wants to leave now

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1 minute ago, killer1257 said:

But he wants to leave now

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ah fair enough, didnt know that

 

For this summer Bayern seem to want a RB and Sane.  Liverpool cant afford.  Madrid, Barca same.   Leaves us or Man Utd really, and i think they'll focus on Sancho.  Their own CEO said not to expect transfers near 100m from them

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4 minutes ago, killer1257 said:

I knew Oscar before he came to Chelsea and I never thought he would become world class. The only time I changed my mind on Oscar was when he scored those goals against Juventus on his debut, so I gave him a chance til season ended and he did not really convince me back then . I was furious when Mourinho chose Oscar over KDB. Mount for me has more potential than Oscar, but I do not see world class potential in him.

 

I was very excited by him in his first 18 months, if he carried on with that trajectory i think we would have got a top top player.

Calendar year 2014 he dropped off a lot and 2015 onwards he was crap.

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30 minutes ago, Stats said:

Sancho was awful on Saturday himself. Havertz was just coming back from an injury and was a doubt for the game which probably affected his performance also.

Also being played as AM for the first time after a while did not help either. His best games are as RW and CF this season.

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34 minutes ago, Stats said:

Sancho was awful on Saturday himself. Havertz was just coming back from an injury and was a doubt for the game which probably affected his performance also.

I downloaded a few Dortmund games during the lockdown and watched them since the restart solely to study Sancho more and he is a really weird one. His stats are brilliant but i'm never wowed by him, reminds me of Cavani in that sense.

If he can overcome his injury issues i genuinely believe the young English winger already here has a higher ceiling.

kellzfresh, killer1257 and Stats like this

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5 hours ago, Vesper said:

my breakdown

Havertz has been bottled up, his teammates ( Moussa Diaby and Nadiem Amiri) are far too central, so all the players on Schalke are sagging in on him

Alario is not a very active CF, too static

I have to say, overall, Bayer's 4 2 3 1 looks a lot like ours when we are having issues versus a flat back 4

the off ball movement, other than Havertz, is poor

Its just me maybe but it seemed like his game lacked urgency (injury could have played a role)

The way he plays may not suit the PL...Serie A would be a great fit (I could be absolutely wrong and he could turn out to be the new zidane)

I would use the money to shore up defence which is in dire need rather than another promising attacker

If we have money for defence as well as havertz then yes why not

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5 hours ago, Tomo said:

What seems to be forgotten due to his damp squib last 2/3 years is that Oscar's potential was insane as a youngster, if Mount can become what Oscar was suppose to have turned into then he will have a long and happy career here.

It is still shocking how sideway Oscar career at Chelsea went. He was a poor fit for Mourinho, a system that relies a lot on individual brilliance rather than collectivism like Lampard, Sarri, Kklop, etc. 

 

I like Mount and believe his talent, but Havertz is a bigger talent. That is not a knock on Mount, says more about Havertz from my perspective. 

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